07 January 2012

A Broken Record

The other week, during dinner after the home purification, the member whose home we were at asked the most awkward of questions, namely what I envisioned my "next step" in Zen to be.  Specifically, she was fishing for whether I had aspirations of being a teacher.

I explained that one doesn't "career-track" in Zen and that such decisions aren't at all up to the individual but come from upper-ups.  She asked, "But don't you want to be a teacher, give teishos, offer dokusan?"

At that point I told her, "Not really."  She was surprised. 

So I got expansive.  I told her that, first of all, I'm really, really happy doing what I'm doing and that I get to do things teachers can't, precisely because I'm not a teacher.  Beyond that, I continued, I'm much more interested in pursuing some kind of monastic/mendicant form of Zen practice, maybe even starting up something within the lineage. 

Now she was rather shocked.

I told her that I really see a need in my life for a more committed form of practice, becoming a full-timer in every sense of the word.  What's more, I offered, I think others might be looking for something like this, too.  There are people I know of already who want to go further than a "drop in the center for an evening sitting with dokusan" or "sit on Sunday and hear a teisho" kind of thing, as very important as those might be for many.  I added that, given all of the sex- and money-related scandals in American Zen the last 50 years, maybe it's time to give the old ways another shot and have members at the heart of the sangha who give a loud, clear, and public "no, thanks" to these potential stumbling-blocks.

Of course, I said, I still need to get the last kid through college, so there are no immediate plans.  At this point, though, the Dharma brother who was with me chimed in, "He talks about this all the time, so you know he's going to do it!"

I never knew I was such a Johnny One Note.  My goodness, how insufferable I must be becoming!

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